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A guide to eating well for pre-schoolers aged 61 to 72 months old so children get all the nutrition they need
Your physically active five-year-old child needs energy and proper nutrients to keep him fuelled throughout the day. Here are some healthy eating tips for your lively little one to make sure that he gets all the nutrition he needs!
Feed your active pre-schooler a wide variety of nutrient-dense food from all the major food groups! Here is the recommended number of servings he should be getting in a day.
Recommended number of servings per day
Brown rice and wholemeal bread
Meat and Others
Dairy foods or calcium-rich foods
3 - 4
Examples of 1 serving
Brown Rice and Wholemeal Bread
* rice bowl** 250ml mug*** 250ml cup + 10 inch plate
Harness the Goodness of Fruit and Vegetables
Need a hand with portions? Use My Healthy Plate as a visual guide. Using a child’s plate (not an adult’s plate!), offer a variety of healthy food and aim to serve ½ plate of vegetables and fruit, ¼ plate of wholegrains, and ¼ plate of meat/others for your child’s main meals.
Benefits of Vegetables
Fat is an essential nutrient in your child’s diet. Without fat, your child's growth and development will be affected. Fat provides energy and helps absorb, transport, and store vitamins in the body. However, too much fat, especially saturated fat and trans fats can lead to excessive weight gain and health problems like heart disease and stroke. Red meat, for example, has lots of saturated fats, so offer your pre-schooler small portions of lean meat instead.
Choose good fats such as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat instead—you will find these in cooking oils with the Healthier Choice Symbol, fish like salmon and sardine, avocados, and nuts like walnuts and almonds.
Be mindful of the portions. Too much good fat can still result in too many calories, leading to unnecessary weight gain and obesity.
Getting the Fats Right!
Calcium is an essential part of your child’s balanced diet as it helps to develop strong, healthy bones and teeth. The best calcium sources are dairy products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt. Other good sources include fortified food (e.g. soybean milk), dark green leafy vegetables and fish with edible bones (e.g. sardines).
Your child loves breads and cereals for breakfast? That's great! Bread and cereals are good sources of fibre, carbohydrates, protein and a wide range of vitamins and minerals. Make sure you choose whole grains breakfast food that will give your child all the energy he needs to start off his day.
Have a fussy eater who just refuses to clean his or her plate? Continue making sure your child gets his required daily intake of vegetables and fruit. Not only does fibre prevent heart disease and other conditions, it also helps aid digestion and prevents constipation.
Think up of creative ways to encourage your child to eat his vegetables and fruit each day: frozen fruit make yummy sweet treats on a hot day, while corn, mushrooms and carrot are good alternatives for your child if he doesn’t like the slightly bitter taste of dark green leafy vegetables like
chye sim. Getting your pre-schooler to fill up more on fruit and vegetables can also help your child avoid gaining too much weight.
More Fibre for a Fit and Fabulous You
Your child will need plenty of water throughout the day so make sure they stay hydrated. Don’t wait until they’re thirsty to give them water; sometimes kids can have too much fun playing under the sun and forget to refresh themselves.
Kids should drink more water when they are ill, when it’s hot outside, or when they are engaged in physical activity. If they find water too bland, add a couple of slices of lemon or cucumber to zest it up.
Avoid giving your child sweetened drinks and offer your child no more than two cups of milk a day.
The Drop of Life—6 Reasons to Drink Water
While parents can ensure healthier meals at home, it can be a challenge to choose healthier food options for your child when eating at restaurants with the rest of the family.
Here are a few tips on good nutrition for mum and dad when dining out:
Choose from the adult menu.
It’s perfectly fine to order food for your child from the main menu instead of the kid’s menu, especially if the main menu offers healthier options. The portions will probably be too big if you order from the adult menu, so try asking if the chef is willing to prepare a kid-sized version of the dish, or simply share the dish with your child. Ask for a smaller plate so you can portion it out for your little one. Cut up lean meats into bite-sized, kid-friendly pieces that are easier for your child to chew.
Choose healthier sides.
If you have an option of choosing the sides, opt for a salad or steamed veggies instead of fries.
Avoid sauce- or gravy-based dishes.
These usually contain very high amounts of sodium, sugar, and/or calories, so avoid ordering foods that come with generous amounts of gravy, e.g. curry.
Avoid processed food.
These food items—e.g. hot dog, luncheon meat, and nuggets—are usually high in sodium.
Choose healthier cooking methods.
Look for dishes that have been stir-fried, baked, grilled, poached or steamed. Avoid deep fried foods—these are usually high in calories and fat. Food like nuggets and fries might appeal to your child, but let them know that those are “sometimes” food to be eaten in small amounts.
Order healthy appetisers.
If the mains do not have sufficient vegetables, order a variety of appetisers like salads or vegetables for sharing. Salad dressing is high in calories, so keep the dressing on the side.
Choose fruitful desserts.
Avoid fattening garnishes like whipped cream, hot fudge, and rainbow sprinkles if you can, and opt for healthy toppings such as nuts or fresh fruit instead.
Navigating the Tricky World of Kid’s Menus
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This article was last reviewed on
Monday, March 16, 2020
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